Tom’s bid for Oscar success

Tom Bidwell from Leyland
Tom Bidwell from Leyland

A film written by a Leyland man has been nominated for an Oscar.

Tom Bidwell, 26, who attended Balshaw’s High School, said he was stunned when he heard the news on Tuesday.

His short film, Wish 143, is about a young cancer patient called David who is granted one wish before he dies.

But rather than wishing for a dream trip or to meet his favourite celebrity, Wish 143 tells the story of a 15-year-old boy desperate to lose his virginity before his time runs out.

The film, directed by Ian Barnes and produced by Samantha Waite, has been nominated in the Short Film (Live Action) category of the 83rd Academy Awards.

The ceremony is due to be held in Los Angeles’ Kodak Theatre on February 27, and Tom could be rubbing shoulders with fellow nominees including Colin Firth, Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicole Kidman.

Tom, who grew up in Leyland Lane, said: “My friend phoned me up to tell me that I’d been nominated and it seemed very surreal, I think he was more excited than me.

“People who are nominated don’t hear before the main announcement, so in that sense, I was in the same boat as Colin Firth.

“It’s a great honour to be nominated for an Oscar and it was a massive surprise.

“I feel very pleased for everybody involved, especially the lad who plays the lead.

In 1999, when the former Runshaw College student was just 14, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and underwent months of chemotherapy.

Following his recovery, Tom went on to study Literature and Drama at the University of East Anglia before scriptwriting for programmes including Eastenders, Holby City and Casualty.

Tom was diagnosed with ME six months ago, which causes muscle pain and intense exhaustion.

He is undergoing treatment for the ME, which is completely unrelated to his previous illness.

He said: “With the film, I wanted to open up the subject of cancer in young people and hopefully help others who are experiencing something similar.”

The 22-minute film, which cost around £15,000 to make, was produced as part of BBC Film Network’s BBC Drama Shorts.

Tom’s former headteacher, Jo Venn from Balshaw’s CE High School in Leyland, said: “Tom had amazing support from his family during his treatment, and he was determined to get the GCSEs he needed to go to college.

“I remember him as a very perceptive pupil, who excelled at English but was a good all-rounder. He was very popular and was hard-working with a glint of fun.

“We are all proud of Tom.”